I’m sad to read about Ray Lamont’s passing, though I know he was sick. Lamont wrote about causes big or small that were dear to anyone in Gloucester. That coverage mattered. He was a fast and clever writer who could turn a phrase to tug at heartstrings and make you smile. I’ve been thinking about all the time he spent lifting our community stories. I did not know him well but was fortunate to speak with him about art, history, and various local drives. Sometimes the subjects and causes he featured were at odds which made clear to me how opinions stressing bias were incomplete or unfounded.
Joey posted some of his GMG conversations with Lamont here
I have been honored to work with a great many outstanding journalists during my three decades at The Berkshire Eagle. But when I joined the band in the 1980s, I was the Fifth Beatle. That’s because the sports staff was made up of rock stars. Unfortunately, we lost one of those rock stars last week, when word filtered down that Ray Lamont had passed away. Lamont was 67 when he passed on Thursday…
…Among Ray Lamont’s many talents was a dead-on impression of New York Yankees broadcaster, and Baseball Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto. The Scooter had a way to describe things, and Ray nailed the impression…”
Right when I was photographing the paper and thinking about Ray Lamont, I had a special visitor.
Start of the formal obituary
Gloucester – Raymond Joseph Lamont of Gloucester died Thursday at the North Shore Medical Center in Salem. He was born and raised in Pittsfield, the only child of the late Raymond P. and Kathleen T. Sheerin Lamont. Ray’s formative years at the city’s St. Joseph’s grammar and high schools undoubtedly had a deep impact on his life. He continued his education at Berkshire Community College and graduated from North Adams State College, which is now known as Mass. College of Liberal Arts.
Ray began his lifelong career in journalism as a sports writer at the Berkshire Eagle, casting a large presence on the local athletic scene for years to come.
Consideration of Dogtown for National Historic Register failed to pass last night 2 to 6 (and one recused). 1623 Studios (formerly Cape Ann TV) films city council meetings so if you missed the meeting you’ll be able to catch it there.
This just in from Lisa Smith: “1623 Studios recorded last night’s City Council Meeting, which had a hearing about Dogtown, and it will air on Channel 20 on Saturday at 1pm and 11:30 pm.” Once 1623 Studio edits, they’re uploaded to its youtube channel here.
Note schedule change – architect presentation with new building committee and library trustees is Tuesday February 26.
ON Monday February 25, 2019 Saunders House Stewardship Committee, 10:30AM-noon
ON Tuesday February 26, 2019 there is a Library (new) Building Committee meeting 5:30 PM sharp – 7:30 PM. Please note schedule change, again. The monthly meetings announced were said to follow the traditional schedule of meeting on the last Wednesday of each month at 4:00 pm, but that has not happened as meetings have been combined with Trustee meetings, etc. Do confirm ahead: 01/30/2019, 02/27/2019 02/26/2019, 03/27/2019, 04/24/2019 LOCATION: confirm SFL location if Friend Room or one of two rooms upstairs/downstairs in Saunders. There may be other informal ad hoc meetings.
ON Wednesday February 27, 2019 the fundraising committee for the new building may be meeting but I’m fairly certain it’s not at 4-5am– just a little typo on the events calendar. Maybe it’s 4-5pm
The next meeting about the proposed new library building will be held this week on Wednesday January 30, 2019 from 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM. Then monthly: 01/30/2019, 02/27/2019, 03/27/2019, 04/24/2019. Confirm the meeting location whether Friend Room or one of two rooms upstairs/downstairs in Saunders.
I think Gloucester’s stunning Stacy Boulevard will soon be joined by another smart custom build. Cape Ann Museum estimates that a new collection center that’s climate controlled, accessible to the public, and programmable is estimated to cost 3 million and be finished in about a year. Wow!
A wintry blue sky and fresh fallen snow — and knowing the magic of what’s to come!– lent a touch of Maxfield Parrish to the White Ellery site. The blue Community Preservation (CPA) sign reflects new work on the barn.
vs November 9, 2018
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ON Monday Jan 28 there is Saunders House Committee meeting 10:30 AM – 12:00 PM LOCATION: Byers/Davidson Room according to the library’s calendar. Additionally, The Saunders House Stewardship Committee, meets at 10:30 am on the third Monday of every month; confirm locations on the day. January 2019 was moved to January 14th because it would have fallen on Martin Luther King day.
ON Wed Jan 30 there is Library (new) Building Committee meeting 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM Then monthly: 01/30/2019, 02/27/2019, 03/27/2019, 04/24/2019 LOCATION: confirm if Friend Room or one of two rooms upstairs/downstairs in Saunders. There may be other informal ad hoc meetings–there was one scheduled at Dore & Whittier in December.
For your review – summary and scenes from the November 15, 2018 public meeting and recent headlines:
photo caption: Central Grammar apartments (left), City Hall (back), Sawyer Free library (right)
Approximately fifty attendees –including the library board and staff plus eight consultants from the firm, Dore & Whittier Project Management and Architecture— convened on the main floor of Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library on November 15, 2018. Individuals from the Historical commission, Action Inc, Saunders House, Gloucester Green, a local middle school teacher, a Varian employee, library members and 3 teenagers were present.
I believe the light attendance was due to a feeling of repetition. The public meeting was billed as an opportunity to provide feedback to the library yet again. It turns out that the gathering was a required step in the next phase of the library building plans and as such was presented to be starting from square one. No matter how one tries to paint it, it’s not square one. “This is just a necessary step,” the consultants explained. “”It doesn’t matter.”
Since 2013, the library has facilitated and hired consultants to help with public forums related to the building and future plans. (Public and committee meetings, agendas, minutes, and strategic planning are requirements for grants and funding, not to mention big pursuits like new buildings or restoration). It is disconcerting that years of prior and extensive staff and public feedback are not aggregated and readied by the library board nor contracted consultants–especially as several in attendance were present at the January 11, 2017 meeting attended by 150+ that sent the building plans back to the drawing board.
That contentious January 2017 meeting was preceded by the corporators* meeting two weeks prior where feedback recommended recording and sharing public comments for transparency and efficiency and many of the same concerns were expressed.
*I am a library corporator and can attest that project updates have not been shared (albeit annual meetings) Corporators are a devoted library audience and might help.
In between the timing of that big 2017 meeting and this small 2018 one, the library pursued forums via ThinkGloucester facilitated by Gloucester Conversations for its strategic planning. At those forums, the library indicated that results would be shared in the fall of 2018. I was not the only one expecting those results linked on the homepage and printed out for the November 15th meeting. They weren’t. Following the meeting, a board member kindly shared the findings: Sawyer Free Library thinkGloucester Project Report_final 2018
State funding support for library buildings is guided by the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners ( MBLC). In part because of the state’s toolkit funding process, the November 2018 meeting became a fresh start and first step, Phase 1. I was told that the architects and designers needed to hear feedback “first hand” which is reasonable until you establish that yes in fact most of them had been at that most well attended public meeting to date mentioned above (2017), and have been engaged by the library and worked with the library committees for years. Although that money is disassociated as part of the MBLC toolkit next phase, each purchase order (PO) for marketing/public relations (PR) and phases towards new building plans can affect the library’s bottom line, and take years. When I find them, I will link to the library’s letter of intent, a list of costs for consulting to date (phases or not), building related work, marketing completed since 2013, and for the fine art removed.
In 2013 top concerns included new bathrooms, more staff, the Saunders building, art & archives, and the HVAC systems. Here we are six years later: I can say there has been no change in the bathrooms. The library needs more staff. Voices to preserve the John and Dorothy Rando memorial garden have arisen. The teenagers at the November meeting hoped for new lighting. Perhaps that’s an easy renovation. After six years, the library may have saved some money and developed outreach by conducting a local design competition, fixing the bathroom, and hiring staff. We may have move forward together to MBLC instead of what feels like a never ending “stage one”.
MBLC supports new builds that adhere to a best practice formula and adjusts as no two libraries or communities are exactly the same. For instance, specific additional square footage from a current footprint, varied “programmable” spaces, adequate parking and public input are guidelines. I would suggest that money be spent on clerks/recorders for the public meetings and the library should insist on that from their consultants (whether Dore &Whittier or not). I would hope that new input at every stage continues to be updated and evaluated. Why is the focus on “green” LEED not parsing the MBLC parking spaces requirements? The Boston Public Library did away with them–we should expect no less. Some rural or smaller communities may need larger library builds and new visions to create a statement cultural public gathering spot where there hasn’t been one. (Although I think that’s unlikely in MA.) Our extant library has a variety of gathering spaces. And Gloucester is blessed with an abundance of large, special public spaces that work in concert with the library. City Hall, Cape Ann Museum, Temple Ahavat Achim, the YMCA, and the Gloucester Meetinghouse UU Church are essentially library abutters and can pack hundreds. The Legion, Rose Baker Senior Center and Maritime Gloucester are short blocks away. The library can move events to off-site locations when and if it’s mutually rewarding. Mostly it does OK in house. Gloucester’s population hovers 30,000 which is the same as it was at the time of the last expansion. Does our population require more space? According to sources in the paper and the meeting, the building plans remain many years out. The Massachusetts funding model has decreased and according to the MBLC press release issued Nov 2018, “The longer a community goes without being able to start its project, the higher the construction costs will be.” At what point do the costs outweigh options like renting if building lifespans are warrantied to a few decades expectancy? If the process requires construction this costly, perhaps the state can reimburse communities more money, quicker, and/or develop other models?
The current website does not have a “button” or menu selection for new building plans. You can select from the calendar to see some of the meetings announced. You can select About to explore more about the board committees and some minutes and agendas. Some meetings are linked into the City of Gloucester calendar, too.
I don’t suggest that the treacherous bridge needs to be “preserved” or want to impede progress. However, I believe there is still time to repeat my pleas (since 2012). Great design impacts future investment. Is there a small way that the design can tip its hat to Edward Hopper, Gloucester, and New England for this landmark and beacon for Cape Ann, this cherished vista across the Great Marsh?
“Hale said the Woburn-based firmof Heimlich Landscaping and constracting which installed the stands and track in 2013, is heading up the repair work wiht inkind design assistance from CDM Smith of Boston…
“It was safe, and it would have been safe. It just looked bad–it looked old when it was still new. But this administration wants to be sure to fix it. We want this to be good product, and a good long-term investment.”
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Here are a few brief (less than 30 seconds each) sound snippets from the 2018 City of Gloucester Inauguration Celebration including Gordon Baird (God Bless America), Alexandra Grace, Josh Cominelli (National Anthem, You’ve Got A Friend), Fly Amero, John Ronan recitation (poem We, Helmsmen), Charlee Bianchini & Jack Tomaiolo (Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow). To see great photos and portraits of the day, see Kim Smith’s post Inspiring City of Gloucester Inauguration Ceremony 2018. To see the printed program and the Mayor’s full remarks, visit the city website: http://gloucester-ma.gov/index.aspx?nid=956. I’ll add Cape Ann TV video link if/when it’s ready. Ray Lamont’s excellent coverage in the Gloucester Daily TimesTaking the Oath of Office
Salt Island, Good Harbor Beach, Gloucester, MA, is for sale. Unimproved and undeveloped, Salt Island is a natural monument, a beacon. For generations,the Island seemed as free as the air and sea, the beaches and shore. All were welcome at the right tide– daily the beach and island are connected. There’s an innate understanding that visitors need to respect the natural property much as they would when visiting a national park. Yet Salt Island is owned privately; it’s simply left wild and public.
Yearly taxes were paid by the family. The City provided yearly services; for instance lifeguards to help stranded visitors, unaware of the tides.
Is it possible to compensate the owner in the most advantageous way (some combination of sale, waiving estate taxes, credit for donation) to clear up any future ownership confusion and protect the means of public access, minus vague qualifiers (“left open as resources allow”) or increasing any necessary costs? Land steward organizations sometimes sell property or limit access, laws and environment change, funds for care deplete. Is there a common sense path that considers Salt Island as Good Harbor Beach– it’s attached daily– and accorded the same balance of care that the beach has legally maintained since the 1920s?
above – Lifeguards have a summer suggestion in the VIDEO linkFor Sale in Mass: A $750K Island Packed With History.“This small island in Gloucester, Massachusetts has hosted a major salt theft, a lobstering hermit and a Hollywood production.” by Rob Michaelson for NECN NBC Boston
above- photos of Good Harbor Beach lifeguards moving a signature chair after a morning conditioning training session that involved swimming and running the length of Good Harbor Beach, twice. Foggy drizzle, low tide connection to Salt Island
George Doherty told Gloucester police Tuesday morning that his alleged crime the night of Feb. 20 was a “spur of the moment” action.
He said he had left the home of a female friend on Veterans Way after finding a bottle of Xanax on the ground, drinking heavily, and arguing with her, he told police.
He walked down Washington Street, then stopped to sit for a moment at Oak Grove Cemetery. But he began experiencing withdrawal from drugs and alcohol, he said, and realized he was desperate for money.
It was then he decided to burst into the nearby Paprika Grill, brandishing a knife and demanding cash from the owner and an employee while covering his face with a jersey he had been wearing.
Doherty, 26, of 16 Columbia St., Apt. 1, is being held on charges of armed and masked robbery, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon and larceny of more than $250 for robbing the eatery at 8 the night of the Presidents Day holiday.
Doherty was arrested Tuesday and arraigned in the afternoon in Gloucester District Court, where Judge Joseph Jennings III granted assistant district attorney Aimee Conway’s calls for no bail and a dangerousness hearing. The judge set the hearing for Tuesday, March 14, again in Gloucester District Court.
A conviction for armed robbery without the use of a gun can bring a sentence of up to 10 years in state prison.
Did you read Ray Lamont’s article Crackdown at the Quarries from Gloucester Daily Times? That is now and that was then. A few choice excerpts from an August 5, 1978 article by Henry F Billings published in the North Shore Magazine insert of the Gloucester Daily Times.
The water is oil-slicked in places and the litter is out of control everywhere. There is obviously no one responsible for cleaning up the area. Apparently the people who use the area are making no effort to tidy up.
The litter ranges from beer bottles of now defunct breweries to yesterday’s Big Mac container to last Saturday night’s underwear. Careful collection of all the broken glass in the area would provide all the churches of the United States with enough material to make their own stained glass windows for the next millennium.
The persistent will not be deterred by this eyesore. they will follow the path that leads around to the left.
A few steps beyond the first quarry is a second, much cleaner, one. Although there still is enough litter to keep a DPW crew busy for a week, this quarry does offer the bather a salubrious haven from the burdens of the world.
Nude bathing adds a dash of spice to an already adventurous day of swimming…
And, if your sense of smell is weak then the acid rock punctuating the air is a dead giveaway. The message is clear: “come on , he’s got cocaine and morphine too…rocketships to get you high…
The first quarry is particularly renown as an automobile burial ground. No doubt a ‘stolen car’ or two has found its way to the murky depths. That would help account for the thick, localized oil slicks which are the legacy of a quick insurance claim. This explanation is given additional credence by a bit of graffiti on a cliff at the second quarry, “Park Cars Here” with an arrow pointing down. One of the stranger stories is the one about a man who dove from a high cliff only to be skewered by a car antenna. This improbable tale has produced an additional piece of graffiti, “Dean Man’s Cliff.” All of this lends an air of fascination to the place.
So if you can shield your eyes from the thoughtless refuse of others and are a strong adventurous swimmer with a disdain for crowds, then maybe a day at the Annisquam quarry is for you…
When a region as popular and crowded as the North Shore is during the summer, it may seem strange to talk of obscure swimming areas. In truth, there aren’t many left.
And those that we have are manifestly flawed. If you want guaranteed safety, clean water and privies with toilet paper, then you better stay with established areas…
photo caption: Quarries were not designed with swimming safety in mind
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GloucesterCast With Gloucester Daily Times Editor Ray Lamont and Host Joey Ciaramitaro Taped 4/23/14
Topics Include: Gloucester MA, 01930, Gloucester Daily Times Going To A Subscription Based Model For Online Access, What You Get From Local Newspapers That you Don’t Get Anywhere Else, Why A Subscription Based Model For Content Is Necessary
In this segment Ray talks about the Gloucester Daily Times as a local newspaper within a national news conglomerate. We also begin to speak about the individual writers, editors and photographers and what they bring to the Times. Ray talks about Richard Gaines in this clip.
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By Ray Lamont Staff Writer
Gloucester’s 2009 downtown Block Parties, pushed back a month by the rains of June, finally kick off this Saturday, bringing outdoor dining, music and arts presentations, Saturday night shopping and — business owners hope — thousands of locals and visitors to five blocks of Main Street, from Pleasant to Washington streets.
The celebration, coordinated by the Downtown Gloucester business group and sponsored by Rockport National Bank, aims to build upon the two Block Parties held last year, which were held on Saturdays in August and October and whose success even seemed to even surprise organizers.
“After the first one, we heard everybody — businesses, people on the street, everybody — asking us ‘Please, do another one,'” said lobster buyer and distributor Joe Ciaramitaro, who’s also well-known as leader of the popular blog goodmorninggloucester.com. “We got lucky (with the weather) in October, and, again, it brought out so much spirit.”
Saturday’s Block Party will once again feature al fresco dining outside the Main Street restaurants, live music and other entertainment presentations outside Elliot’s at the Blackburn and along Main Street near Center Street.
The party will also give one section of Main Street something of a new look for the night. Ciaramitaro, who has become one of the driving forces behind the event along with Cormorant Shop proprietor Janice Lufkin Shea, noted that this week’s Block Party is being coordinated with the seARTS organization, and artists will be displaying their work along the Cape Ann Savings Bank construction area.
Saturday’s Block Party, slated to run from 6 to 11 p.m., actually marks the first of three such events this year, with others to follow onAug. 15 and Sept. 19. Initial plans called for four, but the opener on June 21 was called off because of rain and the forecast for heavy storms, and with St. Peter’s Fiesta running the following week, could not be rescheduled.
This week’s Block Party has a rain date; the following Saturday, July 25, if necessary. But Saturday’s forecast calls for partly cloudy skies with temperatures in the high 70s and a 20 percent chance of rain. Organizers note that means an 80 percent chance there will be no precipitation.
Saturday’s arts and media presentations will include showings of award-winning film documentary “The Greasy Pole” (see related story), and live music performed by local bands, singers and songwriters.
One of the party centerpieces remains the outdoor dining, which gives diners and restaurateurs alike the chance to enjoy a European sidewalk cafe atmosphere in the heart of America’s oldest seaport. Elliott’s at The Blackburn, Valentino’s Pizzeria, La Trattoria and Pizzeria, Dog Bar, JalapeÃ±os, Passports, Espresso and Ambie’s Sausage Stand have all been granted expanded site licenses for the night to set up outside dining areas.
“We’re putting up a European-style fence (around the outdoor tables),” said Peter Cusenza of La Trattoria in Main Street’s West End. “I want to it look very Italian.”
“I can’t wait,” he added. “I think it’s going to be great. These block parties generates so much happiness. It means more people, more tourists — and more money — for everyone.”
While the Block Parties deign to attract some tourists — the first one last year was scheduled to coincide with a cruise ship visit — Ciaramitaro noted that last year’s events primarily drew thousands of local residents.
“I think these can take our whole city to a whole new level,” he said. “It’s local people seeing old and new friends, seeing their downtown, walking the streets.”
He added that some in the organizing Downtown Gloucester group want to see the idea expanded next year, perhaps even to converting Main Street into a pedestrian area on summer weekends from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
Even with the lineup of musicians, street performers and other entertainers, he said, there is no question what provides the biggest draw.
“It’s our downtown itself,” he said. “It’s the beauty, the history, the energy of it. Our downtown is the star.”
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Last Friday Scott Pytlik from the Gloucester Daily Times emailed asking if I was interested in writing a piece about CapeAnnBeerandBlog. he had pitched the idea to editor Ray Lamont and once Ray green lighted it I hammered out the basics.
Scott asked if I could also try to explain the differences between bloggers, message board posters, and online commenting for less web savvy folks.
The first few meet-ups we had at Cape Ann Brewing were great and I’m looking forward to getting more folks involved to collaborate and help each other out over cold adult beverages. 🙂